In replying to your post Jonathan, I truly apologize for its immense length. I just wanted to compile some of my posts about St. Athanasius as well as give other Church fathers' views that support the idea that man is two natures in an abstract sense and also some additional interesting tidbits by St. Gregory Nazienzen and St. Irenaeus. I hope after this, if you still disagree, I don't think I can make another post again, and I think we'll just have to agree to disagree.
I'm reading St Athanasius and I don't get the feeling he is explicitly rejecting the literal reading of Genesis: I think you're reading that into him. It seems rather he is assuming it and using it as the basis for his allegorical interpretation, just as St Gregory the Theologian did. Plus there are many other Fathers where the literal interpretation is much more prominent. For instance, St Athanasius certainly speaks of our natural state as corruptible. But it seems to me he is using "natural" in one particular sense, to mean nature without grace, after the Fall, which is corruptible. Other Fathers, however, speak of our natural state as incorruptible, e.g. Abba Dorotheus in his First Instruction:
In the beginning, when God created man (Gn. 2:20), He placed him in Paradise and adorned him with every virtue, giving him the commandment not to taste of the tree which was in the midst of Paradise. And thus he remained there in the enjoyment of Paradise; in prayer, in vision, in every glory and honor, having sound senses and being in the same natural condition in which he was created. For God created man according to His own image, that is, immortal, master of himself, and adorned with every virtue. But when he transgressed the commandment, eating the fruit of the tree of which God had commanded him not to taste, then he was banished from Paradise (Gn. 3), fell away from the natural condition, and fell into a condition against nature, and then he remained in sin, in love of glory, in love for the enjoyments of this age and of other passions, and he was mastered by them, for he became himself their slave through the transgression.
So in one sense our current corruption is natural, but in another sense it is unnatural. It doesn't seem to me reasonable to use St Athanasius' words to bolster evolutionist claims that corruption and death are natural, when other saints say the opposite about our nature. The Fathers who speak of our condition becoming unnatural clearly consider our prelapsarian condition, the condition to which we were restored by Christ, to be the only truly natural one.
You're absolutely correct. I agree that St. Athanasius doesn't mean and certainly I don't mean that death is natural in that sense. In a sense, it is unnatural, that is, it is not befitting our spiritual nature. But it is natural insomuch our physical nature complies with. Therefore, when we want to transcend physical nature, i.e. transcend the natural into what is natural in the spirit with the help of the divine grace, then understand that I don't see how this contradicts evolutionary theory.
Also, I'm not so sure it's correct to say that human nature is defined as a union of human and angelic, in the way Christ is a union of divine and human natures. It seems rather that human nature is its own thing, while it shares characteristics with both the animals and the angels. Fr Seraphim actually stresses this in his essay.
I'm not sure what Fr. Seraphim said. But this is what I understand. Surely, Christ as a whole is different than we are, but He is fully consubstantial with us. In other words, Christ is quite unique, and there's nobody like Him. But we are all exactly like Him in His human nature, and this is done in order for us to be raised up into His divine eternal life.
The illustration is an abstract illustration, not a concrete one. I am only giving a dualistic understanding in an abstract sense, and I do not mean to be dualistic in philosophy. I believe that the physical nature cannot exist separately from the spiritual nature. Neither do I believe that we became incarnate in some way or that we got a spiritual nature in some way separately from the other nature. Both were there together at the same time, and both grew together in one complete human nature. We are not like Christ who is the eternal Logos and then took flesh and made it His very own. For us, both physical and spiritual natures came at the same time. However, the union between the two in us can be likened to the union between humanity and divinity in Christ, and this is a teaching I get from St. Cyril of Alexandria, who uses this illustration repeatedly when teaching the incarnation and unity of Christ. When the Church fathers were condemning the heresy of Apollinarius, their criticism to him was that the Apollinarian Christ's salvific work only befits the animals. This lead to the famous Gregorian quote, "What is not assumed cannot be saved."
I will say this. It is because of the Fall that we live in a dualistic fashion. It is why St. Paul speaks in dualistic language, but that doesn't make him a dualist. In man without God, there is always a conflict. I do the things that I don't want to do, and I don't do the things that I want and should do. Quoting out of memory, "Wretched man I am, who will save me from this body of death" St. Paul exclaims? It's only in dualism where we live in a body of death. Christ, who took our form, united all of human nature into Himself, and willingly partook of death to destroy death's hold on man's life. Christ nullified the dualism that comes from death. And so rightly here, we understand human nature as a whole, it would be unnatural for him to die. But for the world, for the animals, it is completely natural, and St. Athanasius is very clear about that.
Allow me to rehash all the links of my talks about St. Athanasius with proper quotes that I wrote about in various places of OC.net, one of which was not so long ago with you in a political forum. These are all in order by time written:
April 11, 2006:
The Fathers did reject the materialistic cosmogonies of their time with the words of Scripture. St. John Crysostom stated that while St. John the Evangelist was the prophet of the end of time, Moses prophesied the beginning of time. Both spheres of knowledge natural science would not be able to touch.
I don't know what that proves. Besides, young age creationism was perhaps widely acceptable in the early days of Fathers as a science, but not necessarily as a dogma.
Is the resurrection of Christ scientifically explicable? If not, why the creation of man?
No! It is something I have faith in, and it cannot be explained. Only what I see, the proofs and evidence before me provided to me by the creation of God is what I use to make my case.
Who dictates what should and should not be taken literally?
The Alexandrian approach to Scripture (started by Philo of Alexandria) was always to look at Scripture as spiritual and allegorical, a way to understand man's relationship with God, where we should not place emphasis on scientific or historical accuracy. Some of the things the prophets may have written may be wrong. And if some Fathers have not taken the 7 days literally, then why should one take anything else written literally? Does God have a right hand? Does God have a body or eyes?
Therefore, we should try our best to look at everything in a spiritual manner, and perhaps prophetic. For example, the situation with Adam's rib being Eve may not be true scientifically, but spiritually and prophetically, it has a beautiful significance, for that also symbolizes that the Church was made and purchased by the water and blood coming out of the side of Christ. The fact that Moses wrote that, whether or not it is literally correct, shows us the profound spiritual and prophetic significance of this verse.
If one reads the beginning of St. Athanasius' "On the Incarnation," he rejects three creationist theories, atheism, Platonic pre-existent matter beliefs, and some Gnosticism (two God theory). Evolution is not any one of these. Only some may put evolution into these categories, but I can safely be a theistic evolutionist.
What need is there to mix evolution with theology?
There is no need. It is simply an interest, a theologomenoun.
The problem is you are equating Eden and paradise here. Athanasius is referring to paradise as the state of mind.
Yes, I am equating them, and there is no problem. In fact, St. Athanasius did not believe "Paradise" to be just a state of mind, but also a place. Again, read St. Athanasius' part 3 that I've provided:
But since the will of man could turn either way, God secured this grace that He had given by making it conditional from the first upon two things—namely, a law and a place. He set them in His own paradise, and laid upon them a single prohibition. If they guarded the grace and retained the loveliness of their original innocence, then the life of paradise should be theirs, without sorrow, pain or care, and after it the assurance of immortality in heaven. But if they went astray and became vile, throwing away their birthright of beauty, then they would come under the natural law of death and live no longer in paradise, but, dying outside of it, continue in death and in corruption.
You can't get any clearer than that. A law and a place, the law being the prohibition, the place he calls "Paradise." God "SET" them there, and not just gave it to them. They would no longer live in it after their disobedience, and dye outside of it. I think though that the fact that he calls Paradise a "place" is irrefutable.
That would mean God had to different creation, one natural and one not, and that all the animals, and Adam and Eve, we not part of the natural creation, therefore contradicting more Fathers and verses than I can reasonably count. Finally, the law of death was natural in the sense that it was the natural course of sin, a position which is supported by the scriptures.
Both are natural, one with death natural, and one with immortality as natural. I don't know how much more clearer St. Athanasius can get. That says it all my friend. The fact that we enter into the laws of the world means that St. Athanasius believed, unlike other Fathers, that animals did die before corruption. The type of corruption that enter the world was sin, and sin is not with anaimals but in the human world.
How do you know? What science writings by what Father are you talking about?
According to Bishop Alexander Mileant, the scientific information available to the Fathers were not as advanced as today, so many would use some logic to whether one could believe in one scientific theory over another. For example, the idea of a flat earth was accepted by many fathers, like Augustine, Ambrose, Diodore of Tarsus, Basil, and perhaps Cyril of Jerusalem. St. John Chrysostom even held very strongly that the view of the earth being round would contradict Scripture. One wonders then why the Roman Church was so hard on Galileo, and we as Orthodox do not wonder if we would have probably done the same (except perhaps Egypt, since in Alexandria for centuries it was believed that the world was round).
Sooo, if some of these Fathers were given proof that the world was round, they would believe it and change their writings. St. Augustine have written that if he has written any mistakes, may God and the Christians forgive him. And St. Basil even gave his dislikes on St. Dionysius of Alexandria's writings. You can't blindly quote the Holy Fathers, but you yourself have to find yourself in agreement with the Orthodox faith and with them. Many people have denounced St. Augustine for many possible heretical issues. If something scientifically wrong was written by the Fathers, why should one choose the Fathers' wrong observations over correct research?
Over-all we believe that the Church is infalible, not going by any one writer. I'm not aware of an 'over-all' opinion by Fathers OTHER THAN to accept creation.
Yes, evolution IS creation. The Church is infallible over spirituality and doctrines, not science.
Let's get one thing clear. Evolution is a naturalistic approach. Naturalism is by its nature anti-supernatural. Scientists believe that we evolved 'naturally', we came into being 'naturally' etc. God has no room in this scheme. The evolution that most people are taught is one that removes God.
Any science only talks about what is indeed natural, and there is nothing wrong with that. Science cannot prove God's existence, and spirituality has no room in science. To mix both, one must harmonize both, not putting science as a part of spirituality. And the evolution that most people are taught does not remove God, it simply does not include Him. I have no problem in including Him, and evolution has no way of disproving Him or His existence.
They don't deny God per se, but have pushed God's role back.
Actually, to me, this makes His role all the more greater. Evolution and the laws of science affirms a diversity found only with God's existence. Without God, as St. Athanasius believed, the world would perhaps be not diverse and complicated, but very simple, or in his terms, the whole body would be "hand, foot, or eye" or there would be only sun, or moon, and not both. The diversity of laws and the complicated laws of evolution all the more praises God's amazingness.
For the third time, please read the articles provided by the late Bishop Alexander Mileant, who was also ROCOR. They contain all the arguments used by Orthodox Christian theistic evolutionists.
God bless you.
April 13, 2006 (this next one is interesting; despite what some people believe, the Greek Orthodox Church has liturgically shown that the Fall of man equates returning to the world of natural death)
The Greek Liturgy of St. Basil states:
For having made man by taking dust from the earth, and having honored him with Your own image, 0 God, You placed him in a garden of delight, promising him eternal life and the enjoyment of everlasting blessings in the observance of Your commandments. But when he disobeyed You, the true God who had created him, and was led astray by the deception of the serpent becoming subject to death through his own transgressions, You, 0 God, in Your righteous judgment, expelled him from paradise into this world, returning him to the earth from which he was taken, yet providing for him the salvation of regeneration in Your Christ.
This is very similar to what St. Athanasius believed.
March 17, 2009
Yes, I agree with George on this one.
I've also heard an interpretation where the tree of knowledge is not bad in and of itself; it was just taken at the wrong time, at Adam and Eve's state of immaturity. All they needed to know was if you obey God, you'll stay in the garden, and you'll be fine. They were fooled to think they'll be like God, so they'll be fine anyway, so they did know they disobeyed Him, and they knew they did wrong on that issue.
St. Athanasius said that in order to reserve their grace of incorruption, two things took place, a law and a place. The law was simple, obey God: don't eat that tree. Place: Paradise (typified as a garden). Stay here, away from the world and don't eat that tree or else you'll die surely. When you grow, you'll understand. (it is also believed by Church fathers, like St. Irenaeus that when they grow, the Logos was going to be incarnate anyway, and it is then when they can partake both of Life and Knowledge in Christ). Well, like children, they didn't want to wait.
September 17, 2009
This is one of my favorite quotes that is helpful for this subject:
Grudging existence to none therefore, He made all things out of nothing through His own Word, our Lord Jesus Christ and of all these His earthly creatures He reserved especial mercy for the race of men. Upon them, therefore, upon men who, as animals, were essentially impermanent, He bestowed a grace which other creatures lacked—namely the impress of His own Image, a share in the reasonable being of the very Word Himself, so that, reflecting Him and themselves becoming reasonable and expressing the Mind of God even as He does, though in limited degree they might continue for ever in the blessed and only true life of the saints in paradise. But since the will of man could turn either way, God secured this grace that He had given by making it conditional from the first upon two things—namely, a law and a place. He set them in His own paradise, and laid upon them a single prohibition. If they guarded the grace and retained the loveliness of their original innocence, then the life of paradise should be theirs, without sorrow, pain or care, and after it the assurance of immortality in heaven. But if they went astray and became vile, throwing away their birthright of beauty, then they would come under the natural law of death and live no longer in paradise, but, dying outside of it, continue in death and in corruption.
By nature, of course, man is mortal, since he was made from nothing; but he bears also the Likeness of Him Who is, and if he preserves that Likeness through constant contemplation, then his nature is deprived of its power and he remains incorrupt. So is it affirmed in Wisdom: "The keeping of His laws is the assurance of incorruption." And being incorrupt, he would be henceforth as God, as Holy Scripture says, "I have said, Ye are gods and sons of the Highest all of you: but ye die as men and fall as one of the princes."
A couple of points St. Athanasius is teaching us:
1. Man like any creation is made out of nothing.
2. Anything creation that is made out of nothing is naturally mortal, or impermanent. In other words, naturally, you will die.
3. Man unlike other animals received something different from animals, a grace, i.e. the impress of the Image and Likeness of the Logos.
4. The Image and Likeness is the source of man's sharing with the reasoning, incorruption, and immortality of God.
5. God removed man from his natural habitat into His Paradise (where the saints who die are in now) so that man's grace may be secured.
6. If man disobeyed God's commandment, man's grace won't be secured, and he'll return back to his natural habitat, under the natural law of death and corruption with all the other animals.
In St. Athanasius inspired words, I submit.
September 17, 2009
here's another quote to reiterate the point:
3For when the mind of men does not hold converse with bodies, nor has mingled with it from without aught of their lust, but is wholly above them, dwelling with itself as it was made to begin with, then, transcending the things of sense and all things human, it is raised up on high; and seeing the Word, it sees in Him also the Father of the Word, taking pleasure in contemplating Him, and gaining renewal by its desire toward Him; 4. exactly as the first of men created, the one who was named Adam in Hebrew, is described in the Holy Scriptures as having at the beginning had his mind to God-ward in a freedom unembarrassed by shame, and as associating with the holy ones in that contemplation of things perceived by the mind which he enjoyed in the place where he was—the place which the holy Moses called in figure a Garden. So purity of soul is sufficient of itself to reflect God, as the Lord also says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
And as the Coptic Church prays in the Basilian Liturgy:
"Agios (Holy), Agios, Agios. Holy, Holy, Holy, truly O Lord, our God, who formed us, created us and placed us in the paradise of joy. When we disobeyed your commandment by the guile of the serpent, we fell from eternal life, and were exiled from the paradise of joy."
Notice how the Coptic Church personalizes Adam's experiences.
September 7, 2010
That's very interesting what you say about St Athanasius and the "impermanence" of other animals. Do you have a reference?
Upon them, therefore, upon men who, as animals, were essentially impermanent, He bestowed a grace which other creatures lacked—namely the impress of His own Image, a share in the reasonable being of the very Word Himself, so that, reflecting Him and themselves becoming reasonable and expressing the Mind of God even as He does, though in limited degree they might continue for ever in the blessed and only true life of the saints in paradise. But since the will of man could turn either way, God secured this grace that He had given by making it conditional from the first upon two things—namely, a law and a place. He set them in His own paradise, and laid upon them a single prohibition. If they guarded the grace and retained the loveliness of their original innocence, then the life of paradise should be theirs, without sorrow, pain or care, and after it the assurance of immortality in heaven.
In other words, without this grace, there would be no immortality.
Here again St. Athanasius reiterates:
as I said before, though they were by nature subject to corruption, the grace of their union with the Word made them capable of escaping from the natural law, provided that they retained the beauty of innocence with which they were created. That is to say, the presence of the Word with them shielded them even from natural corruption, as also Wisdom says: "God created man for incorruption and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death entered into the world." When this happened, men began to die, and corruption ran riot among them and held sway over them to an even more than natural degree, because it was the penalty of which God had forewarned them for transgressing the commandment.
It is therefore natural that creation would be corruptible and die. It is a law of entropy. God's grace of unity with man prevented man from such natural inclinations. Only to man did God gave this gift. But man did not guard the gift, and marred his own image.
Of course, there are other contributions I made within this very thread which I won't requote. I talked about Origen's interpretation of Scripture, how it's possible to find "fiction" that is in Scriptures, but filled with allegory. He talks about how one should not be so simple-minded as to take the trees of Paradise literally, but figuratively. I find this also what St. Gregory Nazienzen taught, which I will quote at the end for you. Continuing with what you wrote:
Finally, your claims about the purposes of the Genesis creation "myth", that they were only intended to "delegitimize" other pagan myths, are interesting and intellectually attractive, but they are not patristic. They are what a secular historian of comparative religion might claim, but not what traditional Orthodox exegesis claims.
In conclusion, my impression is that you overly rely on one single Father, St Athanasius, to the exclusion of other Fathers, whose words cannot be so molded to fit your particular theistic evolutionism. Furthermore, you insist on a certain interpretation of St Athanasius' words to convey your idea that man was corruptible at first, being descended from corruptible animals by natural generation, was lifted from corruption and placed in Paradise, and then fell away to his original state. However, St Athanasius does not say this in so many words; only his particular use of the term "nature" can be made to fit that interpretation. Moreover, the witness of other Fathers makes it clear that the Church has traditionally held man to have been originally created in incorruption, and that Man's current state of corruption is solely due to his fall, and not to do with nature as it was before the fall. As a believer in the consensus patrum, I would prefer to assume that St Athanasius believed the same things as the other Fathers about the nature of man. If in fact he did not, then I would still have to say that his views do not accord with the patristic consensus.
Consensus patrum is important. But I honestly am not afraid to use St. Athanasius as a sole source for my faith because I regard his works as supremely infallible. No one ever challenged St. Athanasius, and his writings have been a source for true Christian doctrine, even outside the bounds of Catholic and Orthodox churches. Nevertheless, I bring you St. Gregory Nazienzen. He writes about the two natures of humanity, the pinnacle of the God's creation, after creating the invisible and the visible worlds. He writes about how man was taken into Paradise ("whatever the Paradise may have been"...in other words, it doesn't matter to him whether you believe it to be an actual place, or in the heavens) and how the plants of Paradise are not really plants, but "Divine Contemplation." So this means the trees are not really trees, but Divine Contemplations of Life and Knowledge. He talks about how the Tree of Knowledge, that is a particular higher level of Divine Contemplation is not bad, but was to be reserved for a more opportune time. Therefore, the Fall was not from an evil tree, but from disobedience and greed. Man was too immature at the time to partake of it. In other words (St. Irenaeus also taught this), man was still a child in mind and needed to concentrate on Life for growth. St. Irenaeus taught that the Logos would have been incarnate anyway, Fall or no Fall. We are in a sense because of the Incarnation partaking of the fruit of both Life and Knowledge, because as theosis demands, we are now being made like God. Can you really honestly call the Divine Nature literally a tree?
And I would add that Sts. Irenaeus and Gregory Nazienzen are also those infallible sources that no one usually challenges either.
St. Gregory Nazienzen writes:
IV. And when Infinity is considered from two points of view, beginning and end (for that which is beyond these and not limited by them is Infinity), when the mind looks into the depths above, not having where to stand, and leans upon phænomena to form an idea of God it calls the Infinite and Unapproachable which it finds there by the name of Unoriginate. And when it looks into the depth below and at the future, it calls Him Undying and Imperishable. And when it draws a conclusion from the whole, it calls Him Eternal. For Eternity is neither time nor part of time; for it cannot be measured. But what time measured by the course of the sun is to us, that Eternity is to the Everlasting; namely a sort of timelike movement and interval, coextensive with Their Existence. This however is all that I must now say of God; for the present is not a suitable time, as my present subject is not the doctrine of God, but that of the Incarnation. And when I say God, I mean Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for Godhead is neither diffused beyond These, so as to introduce a mob of gods, nor yet bounded by a smaller compass than These, so as to condemn us for a poverty stricken conception of Deity, either Judaizing to save the Monarchia, or falling into heathenism by the multitude of our gods. For the evil on either side is the same, though found in contrary directions. Thus then is the Holy of Holies, Which is hidden even from the Seraphim, and is glorified with a thrice-repeated Holy meeting in one ascription of the title Lord and God, as one of our predecessors has most beautifully and loftily reasoned out.
V. But since this movement of Self-contemplation alone could not satisfy Goodness, but Good must be poured out and go forth beyond Itself, to multiply the objects of Its beneficence (for this was essential to the highest Goodness), He first conceived the Angelic and Heavenly Powers. And this conception was a work fulfilled by His Word and perfected by His Spirit. And so the Secondary Splendours came into being, as the ministers of the Primary Splendour (whether we are to conceive of them as intelligent Spirits, or as Fire of an immaterial and incorporeal kind, or as some other nature approaching this as near as may be). I should like to say that they are incapable of movement in the direction of evil, and susceptible only of the movement of good, as being about God and illuminated with the first Rays from God (for earthly beings have but the second illumination), but I am obliged to stop short of saying that they are immovable, and to conceive and speak of them as only difficult to move, because of him who for His Splendour was called Lucifer, but became and is called Darkness through his pride; and the Apostate Hosts who are subject to him, creators of evil by their revolt against good, and our inciters.
VI. Thus then and for these reasons, He gave being to the world of thought, as far as I can reason on these matters, and estimate great things in my own poor language. Then, when His first Creation was in good order, He conceives a second world, material and visible; and this a system of earth and sky and all that is in the midst of them; an admirable creation indeed when we look at the fair form of every part, but yet more worthy of admiration when we consider the harmony and unison of the whole, and how each part fits in with every other in fair order, and all with the whole, tending to the perfect completion of the world as a Unit. This was to shew that He could call into being not only a nature akin to Himself, but also one altogether alien to Him. For akin to Deity are those natures which are intellectual, and only to be comprehended by mind; but all of which sense can take cognizance are utterly alien to It; and of these the furthest removed from it are all those which are entirely destitute of soul and power of motion.
VII. Mind then and sense, thus distinguished from each other, had remained within their own boundaries, and bore in themselves the magnificence of the Creator-Word, silent praisers and thrilling heralds of His mighty work. Not yet was there any mingling of both, nor any mixture of these opposites, tokens of a greater wisdom and generosity in the creation of natures; nor as yet were the whole riches of goodness made known. Now the Creator-Word, determining to exhibit this, and to produce a single living being out of both (the invisible and the visible creation, I mean) fashions Man; and taking a body from already existing matter, and placing in it a Breath taken from Himself (which the Word knew to be an intelligent soul, and the image of God), as a sort of second world, great in littleness, He placed him on the earth, a new Angel, a mingled worshipper, fully initiated into the visible creation, but only partially into the intellectual; king of all upon earth, but subject to the King above; earthly and heavenly; temporal and yet immortal; visible and yet intellectual; halfway between greatness and lowliness; in one person combining spirit and flesh; spirit because of the favour bestowed on him, flesh on account of the height to which he had been raised; the one that he might continue to live and glorify his benefactor, the other that he might suffer, and by suffering be put in remembrance, and be corrected if he became proud in his greatness; a living creature, trained here and then moved elsewhere; and to complete the mystery, deified by its inclination to God…for to this, I think, tends that light of Truth which here we possess but in measure; that we should both see and experience the Splendour of God, which is worthy of Him Who made us, and will dissolve us, and remake us after a loftier fashion.
VIII. This being He placed in paradise—whatever that paradise may have been (having honoured him with the gift of free will, in order that good might belong to him as the result of his choice, no less than to Him Who had implanted the seeds of it)—to till the immortal plants, by which is perhaps meant the Divine conceptions, both the simpler and the more perfect; naked in his simplicity and inartificial life; and without any covering or screen; for it was fitting that he who was from the beginning should be such. And He gave Him a Law, as material for his free will to act upon. This Law was a commandment as to what plants he might partake of, and which one he might not touch. This latter was the Tree of Knowledge; not, however, because it was evil from the beginning when planted; nor was it forbidden because God grudged it to men—let not the enemies of God wag their tongues in that direction, or imitate the serpent. But it would have been good if partaken of at the proper time; for the Tree was, according to my theory, Contemplation, which it is only safe for those who have reached maturity of habit to enter upon; but which is not good for those who are still somewhat simple and greedy; just as neither is solid food good for those who are yet tender and have need of milk. But when through the devil’s malice and the woman’s caprice, to which she succumbed as the more tender, and which she brought to bear upon the man, as she was the more apt to persuade—alas for my weakness, for that of my first father was mine; he forgot the commandment which had been given him, and yielded to the baleful fruit; and for his sin was banished at once from the tree of life, and from paradise, and from God; and put on the coats of skins, that is, perhaps, the coarser flesh, both mortal and contradictory. And this was the first thing which he learnt—his own shame—and he hid himself from God. Yet here too he makes a gain, namely death and the cutting off of sin, in order that evil may not be immortal. Thus, his punishment is changed into a mercy, for it is in mercy, I am persuaded, that God inflicts punishment.
St. Irenaeus teaches about the human nature having an animal body, in which its life depends on the human soul, but the human soul also depends on the life of God. He also talks about the infantile state of man, that God did not create man immediately as an adult, but started as a child, and then into growth. He also taught that part of Adam's nature is from the Earth, and so shows our consubstantiality with it, and added to it the Image of God. The Logos taking full humanity obeyed to accept death "on a tree" to replace disobedience of partaking of the tree that caused man's death. Also, St. Irenaeus gives us a glimpse of the understanding of Genesis, where some took the seven days literally, others as 7000 years, and so from this, he interprets that Adam not reaching 1000 years in age died in the sixth day of creation, before he can even partake of God's eternal rest (and so God is true on the fact that "in the same day you will die"), and where this is a prophetic announcement of God in the flesh would be crucified right before the Sabbath, and so on that "tree" we partake of the Fruit, the Christ in the Eucharist, the "Pure Supper":
3. For as the heaven which is above us, the firmament, the sun, the moon, the rest of the stars, and all their grandeur, although they had no previous existence, were called into being, and continue throughout a long course of time according to the will of God, so also any one who thinks thus respecting souls and spirits, and, in fact, respecting all created things, will not by any means go far astray, inasmuch as all things that have been made had a beginning when they were formed, but endure as long as God wills that they should have an existence and continuance. The prophetic Spirit bears testimony to these opinions, when He declares, “For He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created: He hath established them for ever, yea, forever and ever. And again, He thus speaks respecting the salvation of man: “He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest him length of days for ever and ever; indicating that it is the Father of all who imparts continuance for ever and ever on those who are saved. For life does not arise from us, nor from our own nature; but it is bestowed according to the grace of God. And therefore he who shall preserve the life bestowed upon him, and give thanks to Him who imparted it, shall receive also length of days for ever and ever. But he who shall reject it, and prove himself ungrateful to his Maker, inasmuch as he has been created, and has not recognised Him who bestowed [the gift upon him], deprives himself of [the privilege of] continuance for ever and ever. And, for this reason, the Lord declared to those who showed themselves ungrateful towards Him: “If ye have not been faithful in that which is little, who will give you that which is great?" indicating that those who, in this brief temporal life, have shown themselves ungrateful to Him who bestowed it, shall justly not receive from Him length of days for ever and ever.
4. But as the animal body is certainly not itself the soul, yet has fellowship with the soul as long as God pleases; so the soul herself is not life, but partakes in that life bestowed upon her by God. Wherefore also the prophetic word declares of the first-formed man, “He became a living soul,” teaching us that by the participation of life the soul became alive; so that the soul, and the life which it possesses, must be understood as being separate existences. When God therefore bestows life and perpetual duration, it comes to pass that even souls which did not previously exist should henceforth endure [for ever], since God has both willed that they should exist, and should continue in existence. For the will of God ought to govern and rule in all things, while all other things give way to Him, are in subjection, and devoted to His service. Thus far, then, let me speak concerning the creation and the continued duration of the soul.
1. If, however, any one say, “What then? Could not God have exhibited man as perfect from beginning?” let him know that, inasmuch as God is indeed always the same and unbegotten as respects Himself, all things are possible to Him. But created things must be inferior to Him who created them, from the very fact of their later origin; for it was not possible for things recently created to have been uncreated. But inasmuch as they are not uncreated, for this very reason do they come short of the perfect. Because, as these things are of later date, so are they infantile; so are they unaccustomed to, and unexercised in, perfect discipline. For as it certainly is in the power of a mother to give strong food to her infant, [but she does not do so], as the child is not yet able to receive more substantial nourishment; so also it was possible for God Himself to have made man perfect from the first, but man could not receive this [perfection], being as yet an infant. And for this cause our Lord in these last times, when He had summed up all things into Himself, came to us, not as He might have come, but as we were capable of beholding Him. He might easily have come to us in His immortal glory, but in that case we could never have endured the greatness of the glory; and therefore it was that He, who was the perfect bread of the Father, offered Himself to us as milk, [because we were] as infants. He did this when He appeared as a man, that we, being nourished, as it were, from the breast of His flesh, and having, by such a course of milk nourishment, become accustomed to eat and drink the Word of God, may be able also to contain in ourselves the Bread of immortality, which is the Spirit of the Father.
3. With God there are simultaneously exhibited power, wisdom, and goodness. His power and goodness [appear] in this, that of His own will He called into being and fashioned things having no previous existence; His wisdom [is shown] in His having made created things parts of one harmonious and consistent whole; and those things which, through His super-eminent kindness, receive growth and a long period of existence, do reflect the glory of the uncreated One, of that God who bestows what is good ungrudgingly. For from the very fact of these things having been created, [it follows] that they are not uncreated; but by their continuing in being throughout a long course of ages, they shall receive a faculty of the Uncreated, through the gratuitous bestowal of eternal existence upon them by God. And thus in all things God has the pre-eminence, who alone is uncreated, the first of all things, and the primary cause of the existence of all, while all other things remain under God’s subjection. But being in subjection to God is continuance in immortality, and immortality is the glory of the uncreated One. By this arrangement, therefore, and these harmonies, and a sequence of this nature, man, a created and organized being, is rendered after the image and likeness of the uncreated God,—the Father planning everything well and giving His commands, the Son carrying these into execution and performing the work of creating, and the Spirit nourishing and increasing [what is made], but man making progress day by day, and ascending towards the perfect, that is, approximating to the uncreated One. For the Uncreated is perfect, that is, God. Now it was necessary that man should in the first instance be created; and having been created, should receive growth; and having received growth, should be strengthened; and having been strengthened, should abound; and having abounded, should recover [from the disease of sin]; and having recovered, should be glorified; and being glorified, should see his Lord. For God is He who is yet to be seen, and the beholding of God is productive of immortality, but immortality renders one nigh unto God.
But since we could not sustain the power of divinity, He adds, “But ye shall die like men,” setting forth both truths—the kindness of His free gift, and our weakness, and also that we were possessed of power over ourselves. For after His great kindness He graciously conferred good [upon us], and made men like to Himself, [that is] in their own power; while at the same time by His prescience He knew the infirmity of human beings, and the consequences which would flow from it; but through [His] love and [His] power, He shall overcome the substance of created nature. For it was necessary, at first, that nature should be exhibited; then, after that, that what was mortal should be conquered and swallowed up by immortality, and the corruptible by incorruptibility, and that man should be made after the image and likeness of God, having received the knowledge of good and evil.
1. And since Adam was moulded from this earth to which we belong, the Scripture tells us that God said to him, “In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat thy bread, until thou turnest again to the dust from whence thou wert taken.” If then, after death, our bodies return to any other substance, it follows that from it also they have their substance. But if it be into this very [earth], it is manifest that it was also from it that man’s frame was created; as also the Lord clearly showed, when from this very substance He formed eyes for the man [to whom He gave sight]. And thus was the hand of God plainly shown forth, by which Adam was fashioned, and we too have been formed; and since there is one and the same Father, whose voice from the beginning even to the end is present with His handiwork, and the substance from which we were formed is plainly declared through the Gospel, we should therefore not seek after another Father besides Him, nor [look for] another substance from which we have been formed, besides what was mentioned beforehand, and shown forth by the Lord; nor another hand of God besides that which, from the beginning even to the end, forms us and prepares us for life, and is present with His handiwork, and perfects it after the image and likeness of God.
2. And then, again, this Word was manifested when the Word of God was made man, assimilating Himself to man, and man to Himself, so that by means of his resemblance to the Son, man might become precious to the Father. For in times long past, it was said that man was created after the image of God, but it was not [actually] shown; for the Word was as yet invisible, after whose image man was created, Wherefore also he did easily lose the similitude. When, however, the Word of God became flesh, He confirmed both these: for He both showed forth the image truly, since He became Himself what was His image; and He re-established the similitude after a sure manner, by assimilating man to the invisible Father through means of the visible Word.
3. And not by the aforesaid things alone has the Lord manifested Himself, but [He has done this] also by means of His passion. For doing away with [the effects of] that disobedience of man which had taken place at the beginning by the occasion of a tree, “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;” rectifying that disobedience which had occurred by reason of a tree, through that obedience which was [wrought out] upon the tree [of the cross]. Now He would not have come to do away, by means of that same [image], the disobedience which had been incurred towards our Maker if He proclaimed another Father. But inasmuch as it was by these things that we disobeyed God, and did not give credit to His word, so was it also by these same that He brought in obedience and consent as respects His Word; by which things He clearly shows forth God Himself, whom indeed we had offended in the first Adam, when he did not perform His commandment. In the second Adam, however, we are reconciled, being made obedient even unto death. For we were debtors to none other but to Him whose commandment we had transgressed at the beginning.
2. Thus, then, in the day that they did eat, in the same did they die, and became death’s debtors, since it was one day of the creation. For it is said, “There was made in the evening, and there was made in the morning, one day.” Now in this same day that they did eat, in that also did they die. But according to the cycle and progress of the days, after which one is termed first, another second, and another third, if anybody seeks diligently to learn upon what day out of the seven it was that Adam died, he will find it by examining the dispensation of the Lord. For by summing up in Himself the whole human race from the beginning to the end, He has also summed up its death. From this it is clear that the Lord suffered death, in obedience to His Father, upon that day on which Adam died while he disobeyed God. Now he died on the same day in which he did eat. For God said, “In that day on which ye shall eat of it, ye shall die by death.” The Lord, therefore, recapitulating in Himself this day, underwent His sufferings upon the day preceding the Sabbath, that is, the sixth day of the creation, on which day man was created; thus granting him a second creation by means of His passion, which is that [creation] out of death. And there are some, again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since “a day of the Lord is as a thousand years,” he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin. Whether, therefore, with respect to disobedience, which is death; whether [we consider] that, on account of that, they were delivered over to death, and made debtors to it; whether with respect to [the fact that on] one and the same day on which they ate they also died (for it is one day of the creation); whether [we regard this point], that, with respect to this cycle of days, they died on the day in which they did also eat, that is, the day of the preparation, which is termed “the pure supper,” that is, the sixth day of the feast, which the Lord also exhibited when He suffered on that day; or whether [we reflect] that he (Adam) did not overstep the thousand years, but died within their limit,—it follows that, in regard to all these significations, God is indeed true. For they died who tasted of the tree; and the serpent is proved a liar and a murderer, as the Lord said of him: “For he is a murderer from the beginning, and the truth is not in him.”
In these we undertand the essentials of true doctrine. God created man in an infantile state out of material substance, but also out of spiritual substance, in one human nature. Man would be put in Paradise and grow continually through the Son and the Spirit. However, man being hasty and not allowing room for his own growth disobeyed God through the deception of the serpent, the Devil. In other areas which I didn't quote, St. Irenaeus teaches that God didn't curse Adam and Eve, but cursed the work they will partake of, whereas the serpent was directly cursed, and the lake of Fire will be reserved for him. The Logos therefore came, took full humanity, as well as all its stages of growth, both physical and spiritual, to redeem man and deify him.
Today, evolution does not contradict the fact that man's substance is of the same substance of earth. Evolution, since it's a science, has no way of sensing man's spiritual nature, since according to St. Gregory, this cannot be sensed. Evolution teaches as St. Gregory teaches that man has derived itself from animal nature, and we of course understand by faith man is also a spiritual nature. Both are put together in one human nature. Christ was fully this man and of course fully divine, so that we may continue to further in the growth process that was stalled by Adam's disobedience.
God bless you and keep me in your prayers.